In my family, cookie cutters get passed from one generation to the next. That's how my mom has acquired such a large collection, many of them from the 1950s, when my grandmother was making butter cookies heavy on the butter.
On Christmas Day, we got out the whole collection and sorted through it so that I could take some of the duplicates. I'd recently been on a cookie cutter-seeking odyssey through Cambridge and Somerville--inspired by a Scandinavian spice cookie recipe I found in the New York Times that seemed to require a reindeer cookie cutter. Reindeer are native to Norway, Sweden, and Finland, so that shape only seemed natural, but after going to several stores and finding no reindeer, I decided to make do with stars.
My mom's cookie cutter collection contains not one but two kinds of reindeer, along with other four-footed animals like donkeys, horses, elephants, and even camels and dinosaurs.
There are at least six different Christmas trees, and a few different shapes of holly leaves with berries.
The Santas are mostly the old-fashioned kind, carrying large packs of toys on their backs.
In an effort to organize the collection, we separated out the Christmas cutters from the other holidays and miscellaneous shapes.
Sometimes a given cookie cutter was clearly not appropriate for Christmas. "Bell is Christmas. Dove is Christmas. Candle is Christmas. Foot is NOT Christmas," said my mom.
Occasionally a cookie cutter shape was a little hard to identify, like the one below, which might be considered a pig--or as my mom insisted, a coyote.
But these days she sticks more to the smaller shapes that fit easily into the gift tins she prepares for friends and family members. This year's cookies included 11 varieties: frosted gingerbread, chocolate-cinnamon teebrot, lemon sparklers, lime drops (made with lime oil), powdered-sugar covered almond balls, pecan pie bars, Swedish drommar (made with coconut and ammonium carbonate), salty butter pecan, German lebkuchen, chocolate and vanilla-striped zebra, and traditional butter cookies decorated with colored sugars.